WWE executive and occasional onscreen performer Stephanie McMahon thinks the WWE could eventually become as big (or bigger) than Disney. The old saying about there being no business like show business is very true, but within the overall entertainment industry umbrella, perhaps the craziest genre to be a part of is professional wrestling. Referred to as "sports entertainment" by WWE, wrestling as a scripted TV show goes back many decades, and always seems to find a way to hang on when entertainment goes through change.
While at one time the Ted Turner-owned WCW (and to a lesser extent Paul Heyman's insurgent ECW) offered real competition to WWE's dominance of pro wrestling, ever since WWE bought both WCW and ECW in 2001, it's occupied a level above other promotions operating within the industry. WWE produces so much weekly programming now that they even operate their own streaming service, the WWE Network, which launched in 2014 and has only grown since, boasting over 2 million subscribers.
The question is though, can WWE possibly expand further than it currently has? According to WWE's Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon (daughter of WWE boss Vince McMahon), the answer is a resounding yes. During an interview at the Web Summit event in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this week, McMahon was asked where she sees the WWE brand ending up in the future. She responded by suggesting that WWE could one day compete with Disney at the top level of entertainment juggernauts. Her full comments are below.
10-20-30 years from now, there’s no reason we can’t be as big [as] or bigger than Disney. Now that’s a tall order, especially given recent transactions. However, there’s no reason why we can’t get there. You have to dream big, have big, bold goals, and go after them.
Now, many are likely to read Stephanie McMahon's statement above and write it off with a laugh as an example of the McMahon family's usual audacious level of self-promotion. Yet, while the idea of WWE becoming as large or larger than Disney seems unlikely, one never knows what the future holds. In the 1970s, it's unlikely anyone ever suspected that a decade later Hulk Hogan would be selling out a stadium against Andre the Giant. In the 1980s, it's unlikely anyone ever suspected that WWE's brash "Attitude Era" would help the company reach heights that made WrestleMania III look quaint. And when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was busy stunning Mr. McMahon, it's unlikely anyone would have predicted that just over 15 years later, WWE would own nearly the entirety of wrestling history.
In other words, WWE may never surpass Disney, but it's not wise to count the McMahon family and their business out. WCW and ECW learned that the hard way, as did upstart promotion TNA Wrestling (now known as Impact Wrestling), which signed up major stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy in 2010, attempted to go head to head with Monday Night Raw, and was crushed like a bug. Is WWE likely to reach Disney's level? Probably not, but (to steal a phrase from Vince McMahon) one can't be sure there's no chance in hell of it happening.
Source: Web Summit